‘Xi’s visit is so important for us’: France’s ex-top diplomat

01:13

As Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Paris for the first time in five years, France’s former top diplomat was positively glowing about the relations between the two countries’ ties, describing China as “a splendid and very important market” for France.   

Bernard Kouchner, a veteran French politician and world-renowned doctor, helped co-found Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Doctors of the World. 

Acting as French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs under president Nicolas Sarkozy, he also served twice as the country’s health minister.

Despite leaving frontline politics, he has continued to hold several high-level positions at foreign relations think tanks, and at one point was tipped for senior roles in the UN and the World Health Organization. 

Ahead of Xi’s trip to France, where Paris and Beijing will be looking to boost economic and diplomatic ties, Kouchner stressed the significance of the Chinese President’s presence in his home country.

“The visit of your president is so important for us,” said Kouchner. “All the European countries and foundations and the rest of the world, they want to be in close contact and in good relations with China, because China is a splendid and very important market for our economy,” he added.

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“All the European nations are running for good relations with your country. Certainly for economic reasons. Why not?” said the former top diplomat. But he stressed that matters went beyond money.

“For Europeans, he said, there was a “particular consideration for the Chinese people, Chinese society, its traditions, the historical position of your country. This is very important for us.”

Indeed, France’s current foreign minister Stephane Sejourne focused on cultural ties with China during her trip to Beijing last month as she inaugurated an exhibition on Versailles and the Forbidden City in the Chinese capital.

That was just one event in a slew of cultural offerings marking 60 years of diplomatic relations between France and China.

Kouchner added: “it’s so important (for France) to have good relations with China.”

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